Jude Collins

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Joe Duffy - disgraceful radio in action

Sometimes it gets too much, and yesterday was an example. Like thousands of people, if I’m not doing anything more important I’ll switch on RTÉ in the afternoon and listen to Joe Duffy’s Liveline. He’s a decent broadcaster, in that he knows how to get the best out of people much of the time and the topics he chooses to explore are often interesting. But like all RTÉ presenters – is it a hangover from the Harris years? – he’s got a decidedly anti-republican streak. Yesterday it showed.

His programme featured John Stokes, who is a Dublin man and who owns, it seems, a pub there. John has hung a huge banner outside his pub barring Queen Elizabeth and all her family from his pub while Britain occupies one inch of Irish territory. It was done, John told Joe, half in fun and whole in earnest. Like a lot of people, myself included, John doesn’t approve of monarchy and he certainly doesn’t approve of QE2 coming on a state visit to the twenty-six counties, while the north and Britain’s control of same gets airbrushed out of the picture.

Joe gave John - who happens to be the father of Anthony Stokes, the Celtic player – as rocky an interrogation as he could, often veering off to talk about the impact of the banner on his son when he plays in Scotland. Several callers came on, all of them expressing themselves aghast at John’s backward-looking stance, urging him to get with the programme and welcome Her Majesty, a line that Joe quite clearly endorsed.

Finally John said he found it odd that all the callers were opposed to him and his banner, especially as a number of patrons at his bar had told him they were trying to ring in to support him and couldn’t get on air. At last one person in support of Stokes got on. Then Joe read out a text he’d got, accusing him of bias in the programme, a charge he emphatically rejected. John Stokes had got talking for more than twenty minutes in total, Joe said, had been allowed to present his case. How could anyone say there was bias, then?

OK Joe, here’s how they could say there was bias and be bloody-well right. In terms of air-time yes, you could argue Stokes got a fair hearing. But if everyone who phones up thinks Stokes is an unreconstructed nutter, what you get is a chorus of voices vs one voice, and for the average listener that suggests the lone voice does indeed belong to some sort of eccentric or even extremist. If Stokes had been allowed, say, ten minutes of air time, and the remainder given to say five of the people calling in in support of him, that would have been a lot nearer an even-handed presentation of public opinion.

The media are hugely powerful, because among other things, they shape and package the world before presenting it to us as the real thing. As Duffy’s programme yesterday showed, if a presenter or producer wants to pull a fast one and present a selective picture which puffs up View A and does down View B, it’s easy to do.

It happened on RTÉ, the national broadcaster, yesterday, and it’s a bloody disgrace. I’m going to write to them and tell them so. I hope to God you do the same.


  1. I listened to that show also and frankly was fuming at the way Duffy continually interupted Stokes whenever he tried to speak.

    Duffy is a typical condescending West Brit of the dublin 4 type which incidentally a lot of the pro queen callers sounded like aswell. His researchers were obviously prompting him with information to attack Stokes with
    but sure it's RTE after all, anti-republican through and through.

  2. Jude, you just go ahead and write a cross letter to the Director General of R T E.Im sure he will treat it with the appropriate respect.While you re at it maybe you should publish a copy on your blog.Better still write an outraged letter to the Editor of your favourite paper the Irish News.Im sure he would publish it for old times sake!By the way did you see B B C s Spotlight last night.Doesnt look as if the good folk of the Republic share your views on the Royal visit.But possibly the B B C is also anti republican!Infamy infamy they all have it in for me!

  3. While I disagreed with John Stokes I couldn't agree more with Jude as to the Bias. There should be a proportional amount of callers allowed on air to argue against or support a view.


  4. Duffys days of living and sharing with former SDLP leader Mark Durkan wouldn't have coloured his viewpoint. I remember him telling fellow students to set aside their books during the 1980/81hungerstrikes. He must have set his aside cos he disappeared and popped up a few years later with that other closet republican man of the people Gay "wear a poppy" Byrne.

  5. So you weren't really listening then ? Stokes got in every non-sequiteur book....Gaza , Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the Paras, Bloody Sunday, Iraq, Afghanistan, and you seriously think that people were desperately trying to get on Liveline to support that drivel ?

  6. "He’s a decent broadcaster, in that he knows how to get the best out of people much of the time and the topics he chooses to explore are often interesting."

    This is a total piss take, yes? Joe Duffy is the greatest cretin in history and 90% of the topics on the program are totally irrelevant. Your crazy idea that Duffy can "get the best out of people" is proof that the Irish people are far too used to extreme mediocrity in Irish broadcasting.

  7. Anon (the one before this comment) - Duffy is 'the greatest cretin in history'? Whew. There's a lot of competition up/down there, you know. And he is a pretty good interviewer. Sorry.

  8. Jude, still waiting on you to share your angry letter to the R T E Director General with us.You have written it, havent you? Or has your anger dissipated? Come on dont be shy!

  9. I certainly have, Anon - wrote it the same day as I wrote the blog. In fact the letter is largely a cut n paste of the blog. But I didn't send it to the Director General - I'm a humble person so I just sent it to Complaints. if I get a reply I might blog about it. Then again I mightn't. But I don't mind you telling me what I should do - keep it up, I LOVE it...

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